Two men were seriously injured while putting on chains on Saturday, Dec. 15, when they were struck by two vehicles that slid out of control on the snowy roadway, according to the Washington State Patrol.
A three-vehicle collision occurred on westbound Interstate 90 several miles east of North Bend near exit 38, just before 4 p.m.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Julie Judson said a Toyota Corolla pulled onto the right shoulder, and the two male passengers got out to add chains as roadway conditions worsened. A blue 4-wheel-drive Toyota pickup truck driven by a 33-year-old man from Kenmore was traveling west in the left lane when it lost control and struck the driver’s side of a black Honda Pilot traveling in the right lane.
The vehicles were stuck together as they slid to the right shoulder, striking the men putting chains on the Corolla. The 20-year-old from Burien and a 22-year-old from Seattle were seriously injured.
During the investigation it was discovered that the pickup truck that lost control had 4-wheel-drive capabilities, but was only in 2-wheel drive at the time of the collision. That area of westbound I-90 was past any traction tire restriction, but the roadway in the area was covered in snow. The Corolla had minor damage from the vehicle contact, and no other injuries were reported in the collision. All vehicles were drivable following the collision.
"Far too often collisions occur that kill or cause serious injury in which speed too fast for the conditions of the roadway is the main cause," Judson said. "Although many times applying chains is merely frustrating and cold, this type of unfortunate circumstance can happen to anyone."
Here are some tips from the State Patrol that may decrease the likelihood of collisions and injuries in winter driving conditions:
- Don’t ASSUME roadway conditions will improve because you have left a traction tire restricted area.
- Slow Down! Speed is the leading cause of losing control in adverse weather conditions.
- Things happen fast. If your outside your car be alert and give yourself a place to run if needed.
- Apply safety chains in designated “Chain-up” areas that are wider keeping vehicles further from traffic.
- Take an exit if needed to find a safe location to add chains away from traffic.
- Don’t be overconfident in your vehicles abilities – 4 wheel drive and chained vehicles crash in poor weather too. Know when to use your chains and 4 wheel drive.
- Have emergency supplies in case you need to wait in your car for help.
Divide your attention – watching for traffic may save your life.